Not for a better Samsara: On Engaged Buddhism

Playing an active role in making the world a better place.
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Dharmasherab
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Not for a better Samsara: On Engaged Buddhism

Post by Dharmasherab »

Post from Dharma Wheel Engaged

No matter how much we help other beings in worldly ways, the benefits of them are temporary. This is why the Enlightened Beings never taught the Dharma to create a better Samsara. The Buddhist path starts with realizing that there is no refuge for us in Samsara. Our house, our job, our partners, our insurance, our choice of a political party as well as anything else which is Samsaric we depend on, are all subject to change, for all things are impermanent. Therefore there is no protection within any of them from the dangers of Samsara. This is why we go for the Refuge in the Three Jewels by understanding that depending on Samsaric ways for Samsara's problems is not only unreliable but it is also delusional.

The Buddha, during his time as Siddhartha the Ascetic prior to his Enlightenment, did not engage himself with anything else other than striving to reach Enlightenment. Only after reaching Enlightenment, did he start to help other beings. But till then he focussed on his practices to bring him closer to dissolving the Ignorance (Moha) in his mind because the root cause of all suffering experienced by all sentient beings is because of this Ignorance. It is true that the Fully Enlightened Buddha, did help in worldly ways such as speaking out against the injustices of the caste system. But his main efforts were directed toward helping people gain freedom from the fangs of Samsara rather than be distracted by encouraging people to make a better Samsara.

However, speaking from a realistic point of view, it is not like any of us will become Buddhas or Arahants anytime soon. Therefore it can be important to engage in ways which would bring benefit to other beings in ways which are outside of spiritual development. Whether we choose to be active in helping the homeless, helping refugees to find shelter, saving animals from slaughter or taking care of the environment, the underlying principle behind all of this is to exchange ourselves with others and see what we would need in situations faced by them. Helping others starts with empathizing.

We may have our own views as to what is best for others who we think should benefit. Some may think that a welfare state is important whiles other may think that we need more charity organizations. Whichever views you have it is important not to consider these solutions as ideal. We as deluded beings may unknowingly use our deluded ways of looking at the world when thinking what is best for others and therefore we shouldn't put full confidence in our righteousness and instead develop some humility.

Always reflect in the mind that no matter what Samsaric measures we take to benefit other sentient beings, those benefits will not last forever. We have to keep the Three Jewels in mind, reminding ourselves that there is no ultimate refuge for any being other than the Three Jewels. As a part of Dana (Generosity), we should work to make the lives of others better than what they experience at present. But we also should be careful not to get distracted and deviated from the ultimate purpose of the Dharma - to transcend Samsara and not for a better Samsara.
“When one does not understand death, life can be very confusing.” - Ajahn Chah
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Nicholas
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Re: Not for a better Samsara: On Engaged Buddhism

Post by Nicholas »

Wonder if this piece was written more as a reminder & stimulus for the author than the readers?

Buddhas are beneficent on many levels, in many realms, so ultimate or temporary purposes may not be anything They ponder. As this recent buddha said:
Bhikkhus, wander forth for the welfare and happiness of the many folk, for the compassionate assistance of the world.
A true mind and true intent bring truth within truth. True practice and true cultivation take the truth beyond truth. True behavior and true conduct add truth to truth. In everything and every way, be true, true, true. Master Hua
Inedible
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Re: Not for a better Samsara: On Engaged Buddhism

Post by Inedible »

It is more reasonable to attempt to become a Stream Enterer than an Arhat. I don't really know what would be a good comparison with the Mahayana. The standards are much lower and if you reach it you know you will be free eventually. Your time will not have been wasted.
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Dharmasherab
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Re: Not for a better Samsara: On Engaged Buddhism

Post by Dharmasherab »

Nicholas wrote: Sat Sep 11, 2021 9:33 pm Wonder if this piece was written more as a reminder & stimulus for the author than the readers?
Yes it is a useful reminder for me, and sometimes I use writing posts as a way of processing my thoughts. This one was a post I made on Facebook some years back and I share them here (I am no longer on Facebook).

However readers may find it useful depending on how they look at it.
Nicholas wrote: Sat Sep 11, 2021 9:33 pm Buddhas are beneficent on many levels, in many realms, so ultimate or temporary purposes may not be anything They ponder. As this recent buddha said:
Bhikkhus, wander forth for the welfare and happiness of the many folk, for the compassionate assistance of the world.
Its about change from within that comes before changing the externals. To take the first step from the Right View.

The quote you ve taken, was where Buddha addressed his first group of Arahants. They were already Enlightened and hence free from Wrong Views. The help that they were about to offer were to share the teachings leading to Enlightenment (instead of helping other beings in Samsaric ways).

This is not to say that we need to delay helping others in obvious ways. Its about keeping in mind that when we do it to have Right View in mind - that all help we give to modify the samsaric conditions of other beings is still impermanent and unfulfilling. So that we dont attach to that with Moha.
“When one does not understand death, life can be very confusing.” - Ajahn Chah
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Nicholas
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Re: Not for a better Samsara: On Engaged Buddhism

Post by Nicholas »

Dharmasherab wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 7:23 am The help that they were about to offer were to share the teachings leading to Enlightenment (instead of helping other beings in Samsaric ways).
You appear to be firmly fixed in the dichotomy you accept between helping beings "in samsaric ways" versus helping beings in the correct Dharmic way. In both cases, the helper's condition seems paramount, not the relief from suffering that the helped experiences.
A true mind and true intent bring truth within truth. True practice and true cultivation take the truth beyond truth. True behavior and true conduct add truth to truth. In everything and every way, be true, true, true. Master Hua
Riju
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Re: Not for a better Samsara: On Engaged Buddhism

Post by Riju »

Dharmasherab wrote: Sat Sep 11, 2021 8:18 am Post from Dharma Wheel Engaged

N
o matter how much we help other beings in worldly ways, the benefits of them are temporary. This is why the Enlightened Beings never taught the Dharma to create a better Samsara.
Enlightened being acts which is more than teaching.
The Buddhist path starts with realizing that there is no refuge for us in Samsara. Our house, our job, our partners, our insurance, our choice of a political party as well as anything else which is Samsaric we depend on, are all subject to change, for all things are impermanent. Therefore there is no protection within any of them from the dangers of Samsara. This is why we go for the Refuge in the Three Jewels by understanding that depending on Samsaric ways for Samsara's problems is not only unreliable but it is also delusional.
The enlightened being is very firm in His WISDOM. Samsaric changes do not disturb His mind or body. A normal voice hearer (connected devotee) also is free from samsaric changes. An ordinary devotee gets interrupted protection depending upon his strength of devotion.
Buddha in first chapters of Lotus sutra mentions that the Nirvan is the destination of both Buddhas and voice hearers. He gives the definition of Nirvan as tranquil extinction. Buddha WISDOM uses the ONE VEHICLE in which voice hearers sit to reach the Nirvan.
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